Thursday, January 31, 2008
Why Permanent Companies Increase Attendance
From The Necessary Theatre by Peter Hall:
"Creative work in a theatre has always been done by a company...A good theatre company is small -- some thirty or forty people;.... This is the size of a healthy tribe. Everyone can know everyone else. A good rehearsal with a creative company can feel like a metaphor for a healthy family, or an ideal society. The work is done well because the exchange is candid and free....
At the Old Vic with our small company of twenty-five actors we found that the audiences' traditional responses were still strong: they loved seeing the same actors in different parts; they had an enthusiasm for seeing young talent develop; a feeling that the group had a strong and intimate relationship with it which was growing with every production. The more cohesive the company became, the more it felt capable of an immediate dialogue with its audience, and the more it felt able to arouse an imaginative response. This is the true process of live theatre.
At the Old Vic, we quickly created a supportive audience who were making regular visits at very cheap prices...So there was a continuing audience with a developing dialogue between those who watched and those who played. This is not fanciful. It was a feeling that became more palpable as the season went on.
Company work makes an actor's life richer. The big part one night is followed by the small part the next. The small part is often richly played by a leading actor who would not normally undertake such a role. Typecasting is avoided. In the commercial world the obvious characteristics of an actor are emphasised so that he plays regularly the same kind of part. More improbable and dangerous casting is always better, because it reflects the unexpectedness of life. In a company, the actor can take risks. So can the director as he casts."